Design by the Season

Today’s brides are making a statement about who they are in the design of their wedding. Just as the plain white cakes are gone, so are the white-onwhite linens of the reception table.

Kate Parker, of Kate Parker Weddings in Dover, says that brides are older now (28-35) and know who they are and what they want — and often what they want is “out of the box.” From cakes to flowers to the reception table, the traditional has given way to the unique personal statement. The new look in reception tables started in L.A., and then moved to New York and Boston. Kate is coaxing New Hampshire brides to give reception table design more thought. Dressing the reception can be given as much consideration as choosing one’s wardrobe, after all.

Kate says, “Linens are my favorite part. They make the biggest difference — the color and texture make the event special and unique. The color palette is ground zero, where to start.” Once the colors and theme are chosen, there are many options for the linens. Working with swatches, Kate guides the bride in choosing tablecloths, even including an overlaid sheer, full chair covers or just caps, sashes or maybe seat cushions on a chivari chair. Napkins add another layer of design with their shape and placement.

With the type and color of the linens selected, the florist has a canvas from which to build. Color, shape and texture are just a few of the elements for florists to consider when creating the centerpieces. Added touches to the table, like candles or seashells or colored stones, build on the theme started with the linens.

Table shape is another factor in the design. For a modern, sleek look, Kate likes a square table — it is more unique, and the linen and floral arrangements can follow the shape in a contemporary manner. Another new look is the serpentine table, with flowers mimicking the shape of the table down the whole length.

Kate claims that anything you can conjure up can be created by linen companies. The wide world of the fabric industry can be a design tool at your disposal. It is just that custom items may have to be purchased and not rented.

Elegant or modern china can also be rented to perfect a look — everything from platinum-edged porcelain to sleek square plates. With additional choices in stemware, the variations can seem endless. Some brides even buy the place settings at the head table for use at home or use monogrammed napkins, which also can be used at home or used as a wedding favor. It is all about presentation, Kate says. Some brides add a beautiful charger to the place setting when serving plated appetizers so the guest sits down to a perfect setting.

What does it cost to add a touch of elegance to your reception table? Kate admits that the numbers can add up pretty quickly. An average cost that includes use of rental chairs, cushions, linens and rented place setting would add about $65-$75 per person to the wedding total. And it doesn’t stop there. Did we mention silks or tapestry fabric or hand-sewn details? For weddings that top $100,000, there is no limit to the amount of custom touches that can be added the create the perfect wedding.

But even on a smaller scale, every bride would like to have a perfect wedding. Going beyond white on the reception table can be the first step in creating an unforgettable experience for brides and guests alike.

TABLE DESIGN, Kate Parker Weddings,, (603) 682-6539, Dover

LINENS, Resource One, Felisa Bayzw,, (818) 343-3451, Reseda, CA

FLOWERS: SPRING AND SUMMER, Blooming Acorn, Theresa Beck-Lauterbach,, (603) 471-1433, Bedford

FLOWERS: FALL AND WINTER, Flower Kiosk, Betsy Scott,, (603) 436-1234, Portsmouth

RENTALS: Chivari chairs and Etage Flatware — winter table (36- inch round), Exeter Rent-All, Michael Parkin,, (603) 778-9838, Exeter

TABLETOP ACCESSORIES: Grenon Trading Company, Mary O’Connell, (603) 472-3946, Bedford

All other tables, china, flatware, glassware provided by the Bedford Village Inn. All photos where taken at the Bedford Village Inn.

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